Mary B. Banks holding her book, Street Magic: Stories and Tales.
La Muse Press caught up with Mary B. Banks, author of Street Magic: Stories and Tales (2011). The 26-year-old, who is also the co-owner of La Muse Press, answered the following questions about her gritty debut collection, which is now available at Atomic Books for $12.
1. What inspired you to write Street Magic?
When I wrote Street Magic, I didn’t write the stories with the idea that they would eventually become a short story collection. They were stories I wrote while attending the University of Baltimore to earn a MFA in Creative Writing & Publishing Arts.
2. How would you describe your writing?
I like to write stories that have an aural quality to them. I want the characters to speak directly to the reader without having the distance that a third-person narration usually brings. Sometimes my writing can be humorous, other times it can be sad. For example, “Lost and Found” is about two inner-city girls who find a discarded baby in the trash, and one of the girls, Janie, views the discarded baby as ”one of those expensive babies that I wish I had.” There is “Number Blues” which is set in Chicago’s South Side during the 50s and the protagonist, Angela Thompson, is a domestic worker who yearns for her illegal number to hit. Then there is “Love Dust” that is about a young girl, the daughter of Pastor Crawford, who casts love spells on her next door neighbor, Leroy.
3. How did you choose the stories in Street Magic?
I chose the stories that spoke to me the most, the ones that had a strong emotional overtone. I also chose stories that had magical, surreal elements in them. My classmates and professors at UB also were pivotal in helping to shape the collection. When I turned in my first draft of the collection for workshop, my classmates gave me useful feedback on which stories didn’t quite fit and others that they wanted to see included. For example, I had a story entitled, “Country Boys,” about two escapees from the mental ward which didn’t really fit with the other stories. ”Lost and Found” and “Number Blues” were added to the collection with the suggestion of my classmates.
4. What advice would you give emerging writers?
Write, write, and write. Join a writing workshop. Read as much as possible. I also recommend that emerging writers began to create an online presence such as blogging and use social media to network. Stay up-to-date on what is happening in publishing.
For more information about Mary B. Banks, visit her website, The Writing Zone, and follow her on Twitter (mbanks6).